Gluten Free Banana “Bread” Lara Bars

banana bread bar friends

It’s been a rough week here, at least on the domestic front. Um, wait, that’s really the only front for me.

On Monday we took Bunky to the doctor where she tested positive for strep and the whole family got a turn getting swab sticks jammed down their throat (fun!). Luckily the rest of us were in the clear, but man, is that test awful! I think there’s something to be said about (occasionally) having the same stuff done as your kid because the empathy really flows. Like when I got the whooping cough vaccine while pregnant with Little Guy and my arm ached for days. Too often, I think we encourage kids not to dwell on the (many) hurts that they have to endure throughout their childhood, mainly for our benefit (re: less whining) but the truth hurts, literally, and sometimes it’s good to be reminded of that.

So this meant no school Monday or Tuesday. Little Guy has never watched so much TV in all his short life and he was pretty thrilled. Which just means I’ll have two kids screaming for more shows soon enough. Sigh.

We tried sending her to school on Wednesday, but a few hours later I got a call from the school nurse (the first of many, I’m sure) saying she threw up. Poor kid! Maybe it was the antibiotic, but it could have been a stomach bug because she was a total wreck all day. Thank goodness she’s feeling better today, though she’s still at home recovering, i.e. watching more movies.

Speaking of which, have you seen the Lalaloopsy characters? Totally creepy button eyes, but Bunky loves them. At least they’re not mean like the Strawberry Shortcake girls, or vapid like those awful My Little Ponies, sheesh.

lalaloopsy doll

In between shows and vomiting and snuggling, I managed to make these Banana “Bread” Lara Bar knock offs. And take pictures, though that didn’t go as smoothly since Little Guy got his finger caught in a drawer during my “photo shoot” and Bunky pitched a mini fit because I made her turn on all the lights (her dolls were napping).

But somehow I did it. Because I need these bars. You need these bars. They are easy to make and super healthy, which makes their addictive quality totally acceptable. I made mine without chocolate chips because Little Guy loves them too, but feel free to mix them in at the end, at the last pulse, or stick them on top like I do when he’s not looking.

banana bread bar stack

Banana “Bread” Lara Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dates cut in half, soaked in some water to soften up (drain before adding)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 cup freeze dried banana*
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
  • dash or two of cinnamon

* If you don’t have freeze dried banana, which crumbles quite easily and is so so sweet without ANY additional ingredients, either sub in another 1/2 of a real banana, or 1 cup of banana chips.

dates and nuts

Directions:

Normally, when making raw bars like these delicious Cookie Dough ones, I’d throw everything in my food processor and zippity zap. But this time I decided to process each ingredient separately, partly because I really wanted to avoid making accidental walnut butter. Let’s just say there is a reason why they don’t sell walnut butter in stores along with every other nut. It’s gross. Poor walnuts, sad but true. Also, I need to make the nut pieces VERY small so Little Guy doesn’t choke. He loves these bars as much as I do. Maybe more.

After processing each ingredient separately (except for the 1/2 banana, which I smushed with a fork in a bowl) I put them all in the food processor together and pulsed briefly until the dough came together in a ball.

Everything processed separately and in their own bowls before blending together.

Everything processed separately and in their own bowls before blending together.

It would probably be fine to do it this way, too: Process dates (drain water first), nuts, and dried banana together until pieces are uniform and dough starts to come together. Add vanilla extract, smushed banana, and cinnamon. Pulse until it combines into a ball of dough. I’ll probably do it this way next time so I don’t dirty so many dishes.

Then turn out the dough blob onto a piece of parchment paper. Using another piece of parchment, push down on the dough and form it into a shape, like a square.

dough square

Put it in the freezer for an hour or more to chill. Then cut into pieces, or just dig in with a fork. You can also roll the dough into balls and chill that way, too. This makes a great breakfast or snack. They get mushy at room temperature, so store in the freezer.

banana bread bars

Here’s hoping Bunky makes it to school tomorrow. Next week is spring break and I’ll have another week with two kids. I really don’t know how we’re going to make it through the summer. Am I a parenting wimp or what?!

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!

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It’s also posted on One Creative Weekend, hosted by One Creative Mommyand Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. * Please note, that the recipes on these two link-ups will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.

OneCreativeWeekendslightly_indulgent_tue

Chocolate Pudding Yogurt Pops, Oh Yeah

Breakfast around here has taken a turn. And I’m not talking about a good one. Behold, the most beautiful rainbow of non-nutritive value…

This is the prettiest picture of Fruity Pebbles ever.

The prettiest picture of Fruity Pebbles ever.

Our yogurt pop breakfast dream was going strong for quite a while before things went downhill to Pebble land. Bunky was a trooper, eating the pops daily, with unwavering enthusiasm until the bitter end. When I noticed a glimmer of pop exhaustion, I threw in some peaches, experimented with pineapple, and used some raspberry sorbet as sweetener instead of honey, but in the end, the dream died. There are only so many fruit filled yogurt pops a kid can eat before they get tired of them.

How did this Stone Age oaf get invited to breakfast, you wonder?

fruity pebbles

Two words: My husband.

Before you mistake me for an anti-sugar cereal ogre, I will flashback to a heart warming story about my mom, of whom I have very fond memories regarding her lenient breakfast policies. She pretty much let us loose in the sugar cereal department, drawing the line at Cookie Crisp, which she was apologetic about, but unrelenting. My cousins, who were never allowed any sugary cereals, used to spend the night and wake up in eager anticipation and pure joy at our amazing bounty of cereal choices. Peeps, my lovely cousin, still talks about this decades later.

Now that I’m a mom and an avid reader of food labels (a most riveting post about this coming soon) it is sort of appalling because I know how bad and kind of gross artificial flavoring is for growing bodies, but to defend my mom, it was the 80s. That’s right. I’ve just used an entire decade as a defense. You read my bran muffin nostalgia post, right?

So even though I do not technically approve of the whole Fruity/Cocoa Pebble situation, I do not squash it because I know that doing so now, after it has already been introduced to an utterly thrilled Bunky, would be a futile battle. The better way might have been to avoid it until she knew enough to request it, but too late now. Thanks, honey (that was meant for my husband, though I can call you honey if you’d like).

The truth is, I am a closest Cocoa Pebbles eater, when pressed for sugar. I mean, it turns your milk into chocolate milk, which is pretty cool. Also, both cereals are gluten free (and nut free, incidentally) and for kids who are banned from nearly all pop culturally addictive cereals, there is some merit to this.

But I knew that it couldn’t go on forever, at least not on a daily basis.

{Addendum: I just found out about this post from Celiac Yoga Momma who did a nutritional and taste analysis of Cocoa Pebbles versus a “healthier” version and turns out the former is better for you, who knew?}

Drastic measures were needed in the yogurt pop arena. Fruity pops just can’t compare to Fruity Pebbles, alas, but I suspected I could work with chocolate, Bunky’s weakness…

And voila, the Chocolate Pudding Yogurt Pop (with a secret banana) was born!

rocket pops

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 heaping cup of greek yogurt
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 Kozy Shack chocolate pudding
  • 1/2 cup or as much Chocolate Almond Milk as needed (or regular chocolate milk)
Throw everything in your food processor or blender and whirl away! Then fill pop molds. 
I used 4 rockets and 2 stars for variety. And cause 2 rockets broke. Grr.

I used 4 rockets and 2 stars for variety.

Freeze ’em up and enjoy. Don’t forget to use the dregs of the “batter” though, for a smoothie. I plopped in more yogurt, chocolate almond milk, almond butter, and ground flax = awesome mom breakfast, which I generously shared with Little Guy, my pop + smoothie partner in crime.

smoothie

He’s totally getting the hang of eating the frozen pops, too, which is super cute. Here he is, enjoying what might have been the final fruity pop, with his sister and my dad, who we call Greedles.

The family that pops together.

The family that pops together.

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!

gffbadgesmall_zpse392b4e3

It’s also posted on One Creative Weekend, hosted by One Creative Mommyand Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. * Please note, that the recipes on these two link-ups will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.

OneCreativeWeekendslightly_indulgent_tue

Tropical Smoothie + Yogurt Pops

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I’m really into multi-tasking. Actually, I’m not, but when it works, it really works. Like this recipe for an awesome smoothie AND a batch of yogurt pops. This time I have measurements and everything. I know, crazy.

Yogurt pops and enough left over for my smoothie.

Random bit of info, but did you know that 1 cup of Fage Total greek yogurt has 23 grams of protein? I love knowing stuff like that. Makes me feel even better about letting Bunky eat a yogurt pop for breakfast every day. And then another after school for a snack!

And the smoothie is for ME, by the way.

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Got to take care of myself, as you know. Nourish the mom. Full disclosure I do share sips with Little Guy, but his attention span is pretty short, fortunately.

Tropical Smoothie + Yogurt Pops

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of mixed tropical fruit (minus the papaya because of my picky kid)
Check out this bag of mixed tropical fruit. Makes this smoothie easy peasy.

Check out this bag of tropical fruit. Makes this smoothie easy peasy.

  • 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries thawed
  • 1 banana
  • a splash or two of milk (dairy or dairy free, your choice)
  • honey to taste

I sure took a lot of pictures.

Directions:

You’re making the yogurt pops first.

1. Toss all ingredients into your food processor or blender. (Make sure the fruit isn’t frozen solid. If it’s hard as a rock, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds, give or take.) Whirl it all up. Add honey to taste.

This will make 2 cups of a rather thick smoothie/pop base. If you add more milk, it will easily make 6 pops. Mine made only 4 because it was super thick. (Next time I’d add more milk so I could get 6. My kid eats them every morning for breakfast, and sometimes my husband sneaks them, so I have to keep up with demand.)

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*Ingredient add-ins for part 2, The Smoothie:

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon of ground flax, if desired

2. At this point, you should have about 1/2 cup of smoothie/pop base left. To make the smoothie part, add 1/4 cup of orange juice. Whirl and pour into a glass. Mine made about 12 ounces according to my Ball jar. Add flax if you want to kick it up a healthy notch. Note that this will add a slightly gritty texture. It’s still good, just saying.

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You may be wondering how I took so many pictures. I sure was. Until I saw this one and remembered it was a weekend. Check out these two hanging out in a box. My Bunky, her nose in a book. Be still my heart.

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I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!

gffbadgesmall_zpse392b4e3

It’s also posted on One Creative Weekend, hosted by One Creative Mommyand Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. * Please note, that the recipes on these link-ups will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.

OneCreativeWeekendfeatured